Evicted Zimbabwe minorities seek vengeance at the polls


Killimanjaro cane sugar farmland in Chiredzi, which local Tsonga people were removed before being dished to outsiders

from SHELUZANI MAKHESE in Chiredzi, Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe Bureau
CHIREDZI, (CAJ News) – THE move by the ruling party to seize ancestral land from indigenous minority groups and parcel it to Chinese allies could return to haunt the party in the upcoming general elections.

A protest vote is projected against the governing Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) when watershed elections are held in August in the Southern African country.

Preparations for the polls have been overshadowed by the minority Chewa, Kalanga, Nambya, Ndau, Shangani, Tonga and Venda tribes crying foul after they were stripped of their ancestral land or threatened with eviction to pave way for the Chinese, who are involved in massive mining projects.

ZANU-PF bigwigs are accused of benefiting at the expense of the marginalized tribes.

They allegedly sign clandestine deals with the Chinese, to the extent of forcing their own kith and kin citizens out of their ancestral alluvial soils to barren lands.

Their eviction without compensation, to the unproductive lands, is reminiscent of the colonial era.

This corruption and human rights violations has angered the minority groups. They were hopeful their rights to land would be upheld by the “Second Republic” of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, after years of violation by his predecessor, Robert Mugabe (now late).

Under Mugabe, Chinese were given priority to diamonds at the eastern Marange at the expense of the locals. Well-connected politicians lined up their pockets.

Currently, conflicts between communities in Mutoko and Chinese-owned Shanghai Haoyuan, Jinding Mining and Bozimo mining companies are causing sleepless nights to the locals.

Elsewhere, in Chilonga, Chriedzi district in the ancient Masvingo province, the ZANU-PF government is pegging vast swathes of land to be auctioned to the Chinese, at the expense of locals.

“What makes us angry is that the same government came to Kilimanjaro to parcel all the land to people from other regions while locals (Tsonga / Shangaan) never benefited from the cane-sugar farming land,” Salani Chauke (not real identity) told CAJ News Africa.

Chauke accused the Masvingo Provincial Affairs Minister, Ezra Chadzamira, of corruption, and tribalism against Chiredzi locals, who are Shangaans.

“If you go to the Kilimanjaro scheme, there is not even one Shangaan speaking person yet the land belongs to us. They did the same with Mkwasine, where they parceled out the cane-sugar lands to their kith and kin. They excluded us. The president knows about this but he does not want to take action,” Chauke fumed.

Mnangagwa has been president since 2017 after Mugabe resigned.

In Mashonaland East, villagers at Nyamakope are threatening to vote against ZANU-PF. They accuse the governing party of being intolerant with its citizens while siding with foreign citizens.

“I believe this election comes at the right time to settle scores with these corrupt ZANU-PF leaders. If you take our land and parcel to the Chinese, if I may ask, where would you like us to go?” queried Netsai Shambadope.

Similar ructions are evolving the western Plumtree, the Matabeleland South town bordering Botswana.

In the town, some people of no Kalanga and Ndebele origin have been reportedly pegging lands without authority of the local traditional leaders.

It is believed they have corruptly obtained such authority in connivance with unscrupulous public officials from Harare.

“Whenever we ask who they were, they resort to violence,” a terrified local villager said.

“They say they were issued with letters from Harare to come and occupy our land. This is the highest level of disrespect, corruption and intolerance,” the Plumtree resident said.

“ Whatever deals these ZANU-PF bigwigs are signing with Chinese at night, they will cost them elections. We love ZANU-PF but their corruption is too much,” he added.

Plumtree, located in the districts of Bulilima and Mangwe, is among a few regions ZANU-PF secures rare electoral victories in the Matabeleland region dominated by minority tribes.

In Marange, an elderly warned the ruling party would pay the penalty at the elections.

“The ZANU-PF government has rendered us foreigners and destitute in our motherland. It’s better we give power to the untested Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) opposition. Otherwise we are tired of the ZANU-PF abuse, corruption and intolerance,” he said.

CCC, led by Nelson Chamisa, has emerged as the biggest threat to ZANU-PF’s 43-year stronghold on power since independence from Britain.

Land is an emotive issue in Zimbabwe. It was the basis of the liberation wars, including the 1896-97 revolt by the Ndebele and Shona against white settlers. In 2000, Mugabe sanctioned a takeover of white-owned commercial farms by liberation war veterans.

The West slapped the Southern African country with sanctions.

– CAJ News









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